Thursday, August 6, 2020

Little-known Botticelli Fresco

From Aleteia:
In the lower part of the fresco, Botticcelli features a symbolic encounter between the Old Law and the New, with a young man healed of leprosy by Jesus showing himself to the High Priest in front of the Temple as the elements of a purification sacrifice are presented. The priest may represent Moses and the young man Jesus, who sacrificed himself for our salvation. The overall message of the fresco is the triumph of Christ over the temptations of the devil. A frieze holds the inscription TEMPTATIO IESU CHRISTI LATORIS EVANGELICAE LEGIS (“The Temptations of Christ, Bringer of the Evangelic Law”). A companion fresco depicts three trials overcome by Moses, as part of the artistic tradition of paralleling Moses and Jesus. (Read more.)

God Bless Monsignor Charles Pope

I link to Monsignor's articles a lot on this blog and am sorry to hear His Reverence is ill. From The Federalist:
His homilies, which are nearly three times as long as the average American Catholic homily, are locally famous, attracting Christians of many sects and traditions to the historically black church he served from 1993-1999, then led starting in 2007. While New England Catholics like myself had never seen a gospel-music Mass with clapping choirs and applause and dancing in the pews, the parish embraces us with the same warmth they have for Msgr. Pope, and which he has for them.

In 1993, Capitol Hill was a dangerous environment, polluted with drugs and beset by violence. Gay and straight prostitutes worked openly, side-by-side with dealers in beautiful Lincoln Park, gangs murdered each other with little fear of authority, and the doors and windows of many homes were guarded with prison-like metal bars. The monsignor embraced his community, teaching the faithful and challenging them, himself, and those around them to be better Catholics. (Read more.)

Why College Is Never Coming Back

From Forbes:
Mark my words: coronavirus will be remembered for transforming college forever. The virus has forced practically every college to move their courses online for the next semester. So instead of living on campus and walking to lectures, kids will be sitting in their bedrooms watching professors on Zoom calls. 
This is FAR more disruptive than most folks realize. College is about much more than just the learning. There’s the education, and then you have the experience. The learning part has barely changed in a century. Kids still sit in 60-year-old lecture halls listening to professors. But now, the “experience” has been stripped away. Do you think teenagers will be willing to mortgage their futures in order to watch college lecture videos on the internet? (Read more.)

From RealClearEducation:
The credentialed radicals who run higher education wanted to erase America’s memory of its past. So they set out to delegitimize the standard Western Civilization survey course that was offered at many of our nation’s colleges at the time. Their effort was based on tendentious research by scholars such as Gilbert Allardyce and Lawrence Levine, who argued that before World War I Americans thought the United States was exceptional and distinct from Europe and never studied Europe and America as a civilizational unity. Allardyce and Levine argued that the Western Civ course was invented during World War I as a form of war propaganda, manufacturing a cultural connection, so our gallant doughboys would willingly sail to France to fight the Boche. 
Therefore — and the therefore was always the point — who cares if you get rid of the Western Civilization course? "Hey, hey, ho, ho," Jesse Jackson and his cadre of activists chanted in 1987, "Western Culture’s got to go!" And why not? Hadn’t it been created in living memory? A professor of 70 was older than the Western Civ course! Why shouldn’t the universities dispense with it? (Read more.) 

Buried By Sands Of Time

From Archaeology World:
Satellites have helped locate 17 pyramids and 3,000 ancient settlements hidden underground in Egypt. More than 1,000 burial sites were also discovered thanks to infra-red technology capable of probing beneath the desert sands from 450 miles above the Earth. Astounded researchers on the ground have already confirmed that two of the pyramids exist – and they believe there are thousands more unknown sites in the region. NASA-funded archaeologist Sarah Parcak said: ‘I couldn’t believe we could locate so many sites. To excavate a pyramid is the dream of every archaeologist.’ The finds are hugely significant. Until the latest discoveries there were thought to have been almost 140 pyramids across Egypt. (Read more.)

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

The Murder of Louis of Orleans

Orleans' son Dunois was a staunch comrade-in-arms of the Maid. From Royal Central:
Prince Louis de Valois, Duke of Orleans was born 13 March 1372 as the second-born son of the French monarch, King Charles V. Louis de Valois had a close relationship with his older brother, who had become the King of France by the age of twelve. Louis was intelligent and relatively well educated and thrived in the shadow of his brother.

In 1374, Louis was betrothed to Catherine, heir presumptive to the throne of Hungary. Louis and Catherine were expected to reign either over Hungary or over Poland, as Catherine’s father, Louis I of Hungary, had no sons. Catherine’s father also planned to leave them his claim to the Crown of Naples and the County of Provence. After several unforeseen events, the marriage did not materialise, and Louis had to look further away for his Hungarian and Polish royal crown. Instead, he married Valentina Visconti of Milan. (Read more.)

Of Pews, Prayers and Postures

Nevertheless, the question of the postures of the faithful is somewhat independent of the question of pews, for the faithful would have stood, knelt, and quite possibly sat ad libitum in open churches long before the advent of pews. The key question here is whether or not the postures of the laity should be regimented. Prior to 1969, the postures of the faithful were never officially regulated in the traditional Mass. They varied by custom, and even then, there was not the same sense of obligation as we have now. If a person felt sick or tired, he could sit; if someone felt especially fervent in prayer, he could kneel the whole time. In my book Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness, I gave the following description:
None of these bodily actions is scripted in the sense that a rubric requires the people to do them, since the usus antiquior is blessedly free of rubrics dictating how the people are (or are not) to participate at every moment. As a result, different people at worship do some or all of these actions, according to their knowledge or inclination, or even what they happen to notice as the Mass progresses, and no one minds this diversity. There is a healthy sense of freedom of movement a little reminiscent of what one may find among the Eastern Orthodox who may walk about during the liturgy lighting candles and venerating icons. The Novus Ordo, on the contrary, perversely takes for granted the Protestant innovation of cluttering open sacred space with benches or pews and turns sitting on them into a scripted pseudo-sacred action befitting its wordy worship. (p. 202, note 24)
The regimentation of lay posture occurred, as we have seen, in 1969 with the Novus Ordo, which enforces specified moments of sitting, standing, kneeling, speaking, singing, or exchanging a sign of peace (though this particular routine has fallen out of fashion nowadays). But shouldn’t we, in good Thomistic fashion, allow the other side to have its say, too? (Read more.)

Gods and Runes

Did the Carthaginians ever live in Northern Europe? From
The city of Carthage, in modern-day Tunisia, was founded in the 9th century BCE by the Phoenicians. The Carthaginian Empire took over the Phoenician sphere of influence, with its own sphere of influence from the Mediterranean in the east to the Atlantic in the west and further into Africa in the south. The empire was destroyed in 146 BCE after an epic struggle against the Romans. 
The presence of the Carthaginians on the Iberian Peninsula is well documented, and it is commonly assumed they had commercial relations with the British Isles. But it is not generally believed they had a permanent physical presence in northern Europe. By studying the origin of key Germanic words and other parts of Germanic languages, Theo Vennemann and I have found traces of such a physical presence, giving us a completely new understanding of the influence of this Semitic superpower in northern Europe. (Read more.)

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

African Slave Traders

From The BBC:
My great-grandfather, Nwaubani Ogogo Oriaku, was what I prefer to call a businessman, from the Igbo ethnic group of south-eastern Nigeria. He dealt in a number of goods, including tobacco and palm produce. He also sold human beings. "He had agents who captured slaves from different places and brought them to him," my father told me.

Nwaubani Ogogo's slaves were sold through the ports of Calabar and Bonny in the south of what is today known as Nigeria. People from ethnic groups along the coast, such as the Efik and Ijaw, usually acted as stevedores for the white merchants and as middlemen for Igbo traders like my great-grandfather. They loaded and offloaded ships and supplied the foreigners with food and other provisions. They negotiated prices for slaves from the hinterlands, then collected royalties from both the sellers and buyers. (Read more.)

Meanwhile, slavery is alive and well in America, although things have gotten better since Trump became President. From The Rutherford Institute:

Children, young girls—some as young as 9 years old—are being bought and sold for sex in America. The average age for a young woman being sold for sex is now 13 years old. This is America’s dirty little secret. Sex trafficking—especially when it comes to the buying and selling of young girls—has become big business in America, the fastest growing business in organized crime and the second most-lucrative commodity traded illegally after drugs and guns.
As investigative journalist Amy Fine Collins notes, “It’s become more lucrative and much safer to sell malleable teens than drugs or guns. A pound of heroin or an AK-47 can be retailed once, but a young girl can be sold 10 to 15 times a day—and a ‘righteous’ pimp confiscates 100 percent of her earnings.” Consider this: every two minutes, a child is exploited in the sex industry. According to USA Today, adults purchase children for sex at least 2.5 million times a year in the United States.
Who buys a child for sex? Otherwise ordinary men from all walks of life. “They could be your co-worker, doctor, pastor or spouse,” writes journalist Tim Swarens, who spent more than a year investigating the sex trade in America. In Georgia alone, it is estimated that 7,200 men (half of them in their 30s) seek to purchase sex with adolescent girls each month, averaging roughly 300 a day. On average, a child might be raped by 6,000 men during a five-year period of servitude.
It is estimated that at least 100,000 children—girls and boys—are bought and sold for sex in the U.S. every year, with as many as 300,000 children in danger of being trafficked each year. Some of these children are forcefully abducted, others are runaways, and still others are sold into the system by relatives and acquaintances.
“Human trafficking—the commercial sexual exploitation of American children and women, via the Internet, strip clubs, escort services, or street prostitution—is on its way to becoming one of the worst crimes in the U.S.,” said prosecutor Krishna Patel. (Read more.)

American Thinker:
In fact, Jeffrey Epstein remained a highly sought-after companion among the elite, even after his release from jail on sex offender charges. A dinner at his New York mansion was attended by such media luminaries as Katie Couric, Chelsea Handler, and George Stephanopolous, whose wife just publicly urged parents to watch porn with their children. 
And it wasn’t just media stars who loved Epstein. Bill Gates, who has endowed the world’s largest charitable organization, visited Epstein many times and maintained close ties through his staff. Harvard University gave Epstein his own office, phone line, and unlimited access, after he donated $9 million for scientific research. And Harvard faculty visited Epstein in his various homes and in jail and flew on his private planes. 
As the magnitude of the Epstein-Maxwell saga reaches the public, it’s becoming harder for elites to haughtily wave away attention to their behavior. In previous times, the story about Wayfair that raced across social media last week might never even have surfaced. But in today’s environment, this odd development inspired countless TikTok videos, outraged tweets and media denials. (Read more.) 
Meanwhile, Trump puts more money into fighting human trafficking, HERE. 

The Prison of the Mind

From Sons of St. Joseph:
As someone with mental illness – I often asked myself a few of those same questions: Why am I doing this to myself? I couldn’t explain why my mind worked the way it did. Even though I knew that I wasn’t thinking correctly, I couldn’t remember a time when I wasn’t this way. I had this inner dialogue taking place inside my head. I incessantly analyzed and questioned everything I did and said. I analyzed and quested everything everyone else did and said; then, I tried to analyze and predict what they were thinking. It was exhausting.
Thinking back, when I was a child, I don’t remember being particularly anxious or high-strung; in fact, I tended more towards solitary introspection. I was alone a lot. I made-up little games and fantasy scenarios whereby I was an astronaut with my treehouse serving as a spaceship. In school and in life, I was alienated and distant from other boys and men – including my father. I strangely felt safe while barricading myself into ever smaller spaces – the basement, a large cardboard box, my tiny bedroom closet. In these safe spaces, I spent countless hours floating through a fantasy world in my mind. I invented movie plotlines during which a courageous man would rescue me from my self-imposed exile. He never showed up.
Mirroring my mental imprisonment within a series of increasingly narrow thoughts, my world became smaller. I felt like a giant “Alice” trapped inside the White Rabbit’s house. Mental illness is incredibly difficult to describe. You no longer feel safe – anywhere. As a result, you hide deeper and deeper within yourself, until you are almost completely lost. Then you lose control. It feels as if you are trapped in someone else’s body. Controlled by someone else’s mind and you are buried deep inside – screaming: Please help me! Except no one can here you. Its terrifying. (Read more.)

Gardening vs Farming

From The Farmer's Daughter:
So how is farming different than gardening? It starts at the very beginning. I bought plants and plugged them into the ground. On the farm, Mom started seeding in March. Each seed was carefully inserted into a cup of dirt. We had an older heater for the greenhouse to keep them warm on cooler nights. Sweet corn was planted in stages, so we had a steady supply throughout the summer. Tree fruits were protected from late frosts.

For my garden, I had to weed my raised beds regularly. I’d don my leather gloves and get to work. The entire process took half an hour. On the farm, it was never so easy. We usually laid down a biodegradable black plastic that both kept the soil warm and stopped the weeds. But there were still times when we spent hours on our hands and knees pulling weeds. 

I didn’t really worry much about pests in the garden. Sure, the rabbit had his fill of my produce, but insects weren’t an issue. But pests are always a problem on the farm, especially for fruits and vegetables. Dad had to keep a strict schedule for spraying; even waiting a day too long could make a huge difference. I mean, people get pretty squeamish about worms in sweet corn.

Harvest in my garden was different too. Each day I grabbed my little basket and walked to the garden. I filled it up with yummies and was done in about 10 minutes. But harvest on the farm is longer, harder, and a logistics game. Just for our small cantaloupe patch, it took an hour and five people to accomplish daily. We overfilled anywhere from six to eight bulk bins each day (there’s about 200 cantaloupes to a bin). And we had to use a forklift to move those bins from the trailer into the cooler. In other words, gardening is a fun hobby; farming is work.  (Read more.)

Monday, August 3, 2020

Mr Jones (2020)

I cannot recommend the film Mr. Jones on Amazon Prime highly enough. It is about the young Welsh journalist Gareth Jones who confirmed the reports of Malcolm Muggeridge  about the great famine in the Ukraine, in spite of the efforts of Stalin and Walter Duranty of the New York Times to silence him. It is a movie I have been waiting for for years. How timely the film is since now that the press, led by the New York Times, still lies to us on a daily basis. I only wonder why Malcolm Muggeridge is not featured more in the film. The film is framed by scenes of George Orwell writing Animal Farm. From The Playlist:

The film opens in 1933, with 27-year-old Jones (James Norton) serving as Foreign Advisor to Prime Minister David Lloyd George (Kenneth Cranham), and desperately trying to warn his cabinet about the very real danger of another war with Germany. Despite the fact that Jones managed to finagle interviews with both Goebbels and Hitler, who divulged to him their thinking behind their political ambitions, the old guard is more amused than alarmed, believing Germany would never dare another war. Under the guise of budget cuts, Jones is swiftly removed from his position but fueled by ambition and concern, he organizes a visa to Russia with the somewhat crackpot goal of interviewing Stalin to find out if he’s adequately prepared to defend his country’s eastern front from a potential attack by Germany. Moreover, Jones is curious about Moscow’s ostentatious displays of wealth, despite the fact that the communist country’s ruble has sunk in value and whispers of an unspeakable tragedy that has yet to catch the world’s attention.

Arriving in Russia, Jones’ wide-eyed blend of naivety and stubbornness gets a rude awakening when he meets Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist Walter Duranty (Peter Sarsgaard). In the pocket of the Stalin regime, Duranty lives a life of spoiled, Jazz Age excess, writing and editing pro-Russia pieces by day, and enjoying hedonistic, drug and sex-fueled parties by night. Unable to get the help he needs from Duranty, Jones turns to Ada Brooks (Vanessa Kirby), a writer in his stable, who knows more about the rumors than she’s initially willing to divulge. She’s a firm believer in Russia’s Great Experiment, but eventually, her resolve weakens enough to guide Jones toward the Ukrainian countryside where he’s quickly greeted with the monstrous realities of the Holodomor.

Out of the gate, “Mr. Jones” feels exhumed from another era, like a lost film from the late-‘80s and early-‘90s, where this kind of determined, staid, and talky picture would’ve been familiar among the mid-budget offerings studios routinely made at the time. In 2020, Holland’s picture initially seems a bit of a novelty, but it quickly becomes evident how the filmmaker’s well-honed craft and the strong efforts of her technical and design team elevate the straight-forward script by first-time Andrea Chalupa. Working with cinematographer Tomasz Naumiuk (“High Life”) and production designer Grzegorz Piatkowski, the early stages of the film soak up the richness and opulence of London and Moscow upper-crust circles, all amber lighting, oak-lined rooms, and cigar smoke ambiance. These carefully arranged vignettes of affluence later work to strike a nauseating chord in the film’s third act, as Jones returns home, reeling from the unimaginable discoveries he’s made among the agricultural peasants suffering under Stalin’s thumb.

It’s the middle of “Mr. Jones” that truly displays Holland’s sturdy command of the material, and the ability of her collaborators to rise to the challenge. The picture shifts from procedural to something akin to an atmospheric horror film, as Jones traverses across an unforgiving, barren, bleak landscape, visiting one desolate and desperate small village after another, where hunger has driven an untold number to madness and death. The film slows here, and takes the audience on a journey of emotional and physical survival, providing an understanding of this little talked about famine that’s experiential. A strong factor in the success of this crucial second act is due to Norton, who gives a committed performance that portrays Jones’ dedication to a cause as both admirable and reckless. (Read more.)

Polish director Agnieszka Holland, now seventy-one, has toiled in many fields. “The Secret Garden” (1993) and “Washington Square” (1997) point to a predilection for bookish costume drama, yet Holland also made three episodes of “The Wire.” Her most tenacious work has centered on lone figures, as they seek to outwit, or simply to withstand, the weight of authoritarian threat. “Europa Europa” (1990) is based on the true story of a German Jewish boy who joined the Hitler Youth. “Burning Bush” (2013), a three-part series for HBO, is based on the true story of Jan Palach, who immolated himself in protest against the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. And Holland’s new film, “Mr. Jones,” is based on the true story of a young Welshman who found a terrible tale to tell.

The man in question is Gareth Jones (James Norton), an adviser to David Lloyd George (Kenneth Cranham), formerly the British Prime Minister. It is the early nineteen-thirties, and Jones is met with condescending mirth when he tells a group of graying British high-ups that Hitler is intent on war. Jones, however, knows whereof he speaks; he interviewed the Führer, on a plane, and, for his next scoop, he hopes to talk to Stalin. He therefore travels to Moscow, as an independent journalist, and although the interview never happens, the dogged Jones remains perplexed by the boom in Soviet industry. How is it being funded? “Grain is Stalin’s gold,” he is told. And where is much of the grain traditionally reaped? Ukraine. So that is where Jones goes. As Lloyd George said of him, “He had the almost unfailing knack of getting at things that mattered.”

What matters in “Mr. Jones” is the Holodomor, the famine that befell Ukraine in the years 1932-33. Current scholarship estimates that just under four million people died. They did not pass away from natural causes. The best and the most detailed English-language study of the subject is “Red Famine,” a 2017 book by Anne Applebaum, who demonstrates that starvation was a deliberate policy, enforced by Stalin through the requisition of crops and other products and the widespread persecution, deportation, or even execution of the non-compliant. His grand scheme of collectivized farming had failed, as any local farmer could have predicted, yet it was not ideologically allowed to fail. Who better than the Ukrainians, so often distrusted and demonized by Moscow, to be cast as scapegoats and saboteurs?

Dramatizing a theme of such enormity is a test for any filmmaker. Holland’s response is threefold. First, she shadows virtually every scene with a distorting darkness, as if prophesying doom, long before the action reaches Ukraine. Second, she introduces none other than George Orwell (Joseph Mawle) as a framing device. At the outset, we find him at work on “Animal Farm,” the implication being that the novel—which boasts a Mr. Jones, a farmer, in the opening sentence—was inspired, or informed, by what we are about to witness. (A curious move; if, as a film director, you have faith in the strength of your narrative, why should it need an extra boost?) Later, the link is made explicit, as Jones, returned from his mission, is introduced to Orwell, though whether such a meeting ever took place is open to debate.

Holland’s third tactic, as Jones journeys through the blighted landscapes of Ukraine, is to show us only what he sees, in the hope that a deep note of universal suffering will resound through the particular. Thus, when Jones eats an orange on a train and discards the peel, his fellow-passengers lunge and scrap for the nutritious prize. Alighting at a secluded railroad station, he passes a body on the platform. Lying there, frozen and unremarked, it is meant to represent the innumerable dead who are strewn around the countryside like litter. The same goes for the scene in which a baby, though still alive and crying, is tossed onto a cart with the already deceased, to save time; or the lumps of meat that are cooked and eaten by children, having been cut from the remains of their brother.

None of these monstrosities are inflated. Applebaum’s book includes a lengthy section on cannibalism. (Some parents consumed their offspring, survived, and, having woken to the realization of what they had done, went mad. By then, they were in the Gulag. How much hell do you want?) In a feature film, though, isolated horrors are liable to come across as eruptions of a foul surrealism rather than as testamentary evidence, and we don’t—or can’t—always make the imaginative leap in scale. When Jones himself grows famished, and chews in desperation on tree bark, we are scarcely moved, for the plight of one outsider, from the well-fed West, is of no consequence in the apocalypse of hunger. (Read more.)

On Walter Duranty. From The Collider:

I’ve read this book, Stalin’s Apologist, and thumbed through some of his own literature. He really wanted to be a novelist. He saw a lot in World War I, enough to make him crave the cushy job that he ended up with, which was basically the docent to Moscow. Rich, famous, Bohemian artists would come to Moscow, and he was the one that would show them the cool, wild side that was that city at that moment. It was a pretty interesting place, if you could ignore the suffering. He could hold people’s hand and drag them through the city in a way that made it seem marvelous. Lenin and Trotsky were very popular amongst artists at that point. I don’t think they knew so much about Stalin at that moment because not much was coming out. And he had a child with a Russian woman that I think was his maid. He would have been kicked out of the country had he really became a proper journalist, and what’s what he told people. He said, “I won’t have access if I tell the truth,” which is what a lot of journalists say. (Read more.)

Being Ukrainian it's somewhat hard to criticize "Mr. Jones" since it's one of a kind movie which brings up pretty uncomfortable to the West topic of genocide of Ukrainians in the Soviet Union. Nevertheless I'd rather refrain from prizing movie as an art form simply because it has shed some lite on scrupulously leave out issue. But this movie is surprisingly pretty good as an art. Dialogues are good, sometimes funny, and picture is overall quite aesthetic. Historical accuracy, though, being quite decent, in some cases failed. As Orwell's fan I'd like to point out that it is highly unlikely that Erik Arthur Blair [Orwell] obtained information about Holodomor from Gareth Jones since Erik's close friend Malcolm Muggeridge (whom Orwell mentioned in his essays) also wrote about this genocide so he is the most probable source of Orwell's information. The overall context of Soviet industry being build in 1930th by the Western countries (mostly by UK and US) in expense of money gained by murdering millions of Ukrainians is correct. Therefore I think it is very unlikely that this genocide of which the West benefited along with Russia will be ever widely recognized. But this was not only mass murder and robbery in order to gain profit (profit was a mere bonus). (Read more.)

I Am Not a Woke American

Along similar lines, what so many working Americans don’t deserve is a collection of politicians that are so weak and spineless that they let mobs loot stores, burn police stations, and terrorize cities rather than allow the police to enforce law and order. There’s not a police force in America that couldn’t have shut down these riots in 2-3 days tops if the politicians let them. It’s fine to worry about police brutality, but a lack of police brutality when dealing with mobs and criminals running wild across the city is a bigger failing. Bad cops need to go, but what about the other side of the equation? We have career criminals acting like maniacs around the police, getting shot, and then we have people demanding that we give the benefit of the doubt to the criminal? If you are going to ask cops to put themselves in danger and deal with the worst people in our society on a daily basis, all while knowing that everyone from the politicians to the media are going to slant the truth to make them look like bad guys, then yes, they deserve the public’s support.

Some people don’t do that because our school system is broken. It teaches kids that everything that made America successful in the first place from the Founding Fathers on is bad. Our mainstream media is even worse. You can’t take anything you read about politics and culture in the New York Times, Washington Post, or CNN at face value because pushing a woke narrative is more important than the truth. “News” isn’t about the facts anymore; it’s about pushing an ideology and everything else including the truth is secondary to that. Our culture has glorified victimhood to such an extent that people regularly fake hate crimes to get attention. Our social media giants are one giant hate factory that divides us and amplifies the worst human instincts we have. It’s a toxic soup that is eating through everything that made America a great country in the first place.

The Coronavirus hasn’t helped, but it has revealed how deeply dysfunctional our country has become. Woke politicians locked whole states down, whether areas were highly infected or had no one infected and they crippled our economy in the process. They also harassed people going to church, told people they couldn’t see their dying parents in the hospital and ruined small businesses. But then when the woke wanted to protest by the thousands, these same little tin gods gave it the thumbs up and called it, “science.” Wokeness has made everything political, even preventing a virus from killing people. (Read more.)


Testing Vaccines on Humans

From Forbes:
For much of human history, hepatitis caused some of the deadliest outbreaks in the world. The symptoms, including fever, liver damage and yellow skin, were written about by Hippocrates in the fifth century B.C.E. While we now know that there are multiple viruses (most famously, hepatitis A, B and C), in the first half of the 20th century researchers only knew of one form of the disease, which was then called epidemic jaundice. Finding a vaccine became particularly important for the United States during World War II, when hepatitis outbreaks affected more than 50,000 American troops. To fight this disease and others, the Surgeon General’s office established the Armed Forces Epidemiological Board. (Read more.)

About Alexis de Tocqueville

From Shepherd of the Hills Gazette:
Before he died in 2016, the historian Ralph Raico—an expert on the history of classical liberalism—donated his personal notes and library to the Mises Institute. Archivists later found among his notes a lengthy essay (or monograph) on the French political scientist Alexis de Tocqueville.
It is unclear exactly what purpose this monograph was originally intended to serve, but the Mises Institute published the essay as Alexis de Tocqueville in 2017. This short and easy-to-read book has yet to receive the attention it deserves, but in our age of moral panics over both race and disease, Twitter “cancel culture,” and bureaucrats ruling by decree, we can still learn a lot from Tocqueville’s work. Specifically, Tocqueville’s warnings about the dangers posed by the American tendency toward the “tyranny of the majority” are still relevant.
Tocqueville, of course, is remembered today in part because of his book Democracy in America, in which he sought to describe the American “national character”—to the extent it exists. But Tocqueville also remains important because he was a leading figure in French classical liberalism (more accurately called simply “liberalism”), thus placing him in the company of liberal giants like Frederic Bastiat, Jean-Baptiste Say, and Benajmin Constant. Tocqueville’s application of European liberal ideals to the United States makes him difficult to ignore for anyone seeking to understand how liberalism ought to be understood in the American context today. Tocqueville’s works weren’t just a neutral assessment of American (and French) society. They were designed to investigate how political liberty could be understood and preserved. (Read more.)

Sunday, August 2, 2020

The Vikings of Estonia

From Estonian World:
A scientist’s long crusade for making the world see the hidden part of the Viking history. The Estonia and Denmark-based Tallinn University archaeologist, Marika Mägi, has spoken about the Viking Age sailors for many years, but still compares it with banging her “head against the wall”. It is because she does not speak about the Norsemen, the Scandinavian Vikings, but the ones who lived a bit to the east, along the eastern Baltic Sea shores. And this is often uncomfortable to hear for other scientists and Viking experts, because it forces them to rethink their knowledge. If the world would accept the crucial role of the Baltic region in Viking communication, many stories would have to be retold and many knowledge gaps refilled. And that’s hard work.

When Mägi points out that they missed a piece in the puzzle, her listeners politely nod and go on ignoring the region. Why make the effort? The Baltic region, as usual, is seen like an empty void between Scandinavia and Russia. But this is simply not the truth. (Read more.)

Separation of School and State

From Charles Coulombe at Crisis:
It is not as though numerous institutes and think tanks have not been warning us about the dumbing-down of American education. As early as 1955, Rudolf Flesch wrote his Why Johnny Can’t Read—And What You Can Do About It. Not only was diminution of basic skills not addressed, but, starting in the late Sixties, education acquired a malicious ideological intent. After spending twelve years learning very little, the average student goes to college, takes sufficient remedial math and reading classes to keep up (or not), and then is ripe for the ideological pixie dust his professors want to drop on him. The results of this is what we have been seeing for weeks now, and shall doubtless continue to see, unless or until governments restore order or a bloody reaction does it for them.
The question then arises, “How does one reform such a rotten system?” The most immediately attractive idea is simply to shut down all universities and colleges, and send their Marxist (and other) ideological faculty to work in the fields, even as those hapless oldsters fantasized doing with their own professors during the Cultural Revolution, at the time that Mao’s Little Red Book was the ultimate fashion statement. (Read more.)

Cyborg Mind

From The New Oxford Review:
Cyborg Mind is the first book to draw “cyber,” “neuro,” and “ethics” together to reveal the ethical challenges raised by the use of neuronal interface systems. These systems are intended not just to rehabilitate but to enhance and even transform human capacities. Cyborg Mind, a book produced by the Scottish Council of Bioethics, surveys what is happening in this field; it explains the progress being made, for example, in harnessing “living neurons” to computers and developing cyborg-like hybrids of machines and human organisms. We are told about human neurons now being cultured to form synthetic brains for possible insertion into robots. Although there is as yet no “public distrust of science,” most people might have an “intuitive reaction” to human-computer cyborgs and regard them as “monstrous.” However, those who are gung-ho for the new technology — e.g., posthumanists — hail it as offering the “only realistic form of immortality.” They imagine that the “virtual kingdom” will “put religion largely out of business.”
Today there is an explosion of neurological investigations as the brain becomes the new frontier, the project to master. In 2013 international groups of neuroscientists created the most detailed atlas of the brain, called “Big Brain.” It turns out that our neuronal system is far more complex and efficient than any computer now in use. At its peak, our brain has around one trillion neurons, each capable of ten thousand connections with other neurons, for a total of ten quadrillion possible connections. Cyborg Mind rightly reminds us that the brain should not be confused with the mind, as mental experiences cannot be explained in purely physical terms. The brain supports the mind, but it is the mind itself that is capable of perception, thought, moral judgment, and memory. Amassing more knowledge about the brain will not explain free will and moral agency.
Neuronal interfaces, in the form of electrodes applied to the scalp or implanted in the brain, are already being used to “harness brain activity to operate artificial devices.” For patients with spinal-cord injuries, strokes, or amputations, these interfaces transmit data from neuronal networks in the brain to appliances that can restore some movement. As “brain patterns” are similar whether a movement is imagined or performed, a paralyzed man with an implanted brain chip is able to move a cursor on a computer screen merely by thinking, and a person believed to be in a vegetative state can be asked to imagine a movement, and his brain signals can be recorded. For those who are deaf, cochlear implants that send signals to the auditory nerve are available, or if something more is needed, auditory brain-stem implants can “sidestep the whole hearing system.” The latter have already been used in the thousands.
Other therapeutic uses of neuronal interfaces include Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) to reduce the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, depression, and epilepsy, and Transcranial Brain Stimulation (TBS) to help adults with psychiatric or learning disorders. TBS has already been used in over ten thousand adults. Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (TDCS) is sold online for the supposed “enhancement” of cognition, but without regard to possible risks.
In terms of police and military application, brain-scanning is already in commercial use for lie detection. Additionally, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration (DARPA) spent millions of dollars on the development of brain-computer interfaces for soldiers to make decisions and recognize threats more quickly, to control weapons from a distance by brain signals, and to communicate brain to brain.
DARPA also sees a “need” for an “enhanced” soldier whose memories and emotions will be modified by “direct neuronal control” so as to prevent post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In the words of Tony Tether, head of DARPA from 2001 to 2009, “Imagine a warrior with the intellect of a human and the immorality of a machine.”
As for the gaming industry, neuronal interfaces are the big thing: Electro-encephalogram (EEG) headsets allow players to control a ball by thinking, and the game even tailors the level of play to gamers’ needs. Players can also live virtual lives with alternate identities or avatars. They can step into a computer-assisted virtual environment (CAVE) with 3D glasses and a sensory bodysuit, such that they can hardly tell whether they are in a real or a virtual world. This “immersive technology” is being used by security forces to train recruits.
But what about the risks? First, there is no definition of humanity in existing law, and since 98 percent of our genes are shared with chimps, humanity is now associated with neurons, especially those in our cerebral cortex. The new emphasis on the brain, however, is problematic: A machine that appears to be thinking could be valued as a human being, especially at this time when the human body is often compared to a computer, with DNA as its software. Research is ongoing to create a computer modeled on a neurological system — i.e., to make a digital mind. Would such a computer be considered a “person,” even though not human and not biological?
Second, not only do these neuronal interfaces blur the line between human and machine, they also lead to isolation from face-to-face relationships, difficulty in separating online and offline identities, and a growing inability to deal with the hardships of the world, success being so easy to attain in a virtual environment. Cyberspace creates a dissociation of mind and body, akin to Manichaeism, in which salvation is “an escape from the body.” Then there is the danger of coercion. Neurological interventions intended to make persons more “moral” could end up as a form of authoritarian control. A “hive mind” or a “network consciousness,” whereby a number of persons combine their minds in cyberspace supported by computers, is an awful prospect. What if their bodily limits should be breached, or one mind impose itself on the others?
Atheists calling themselves “transhumanists” and “posthumanists” are having a field day with these new technologies. Both see them as the way to “immortality.” Transhumanists want to create beings that didn’t exist before, like cyborgs, fusing a human brain with a robot. Posthumanists go even further: They welcome the end of homo sapiens, believing that the Virtual Kingdom will make earthly life futile. They call our attachment to our bodies “carbon-chauvinism” and find it as objectionable as racism. Sociologist William Sims Bainbridge defends a “technologically based immortality” as “realistic,” while historian Hava Tirosh-Samuelson calls technology the “savior” of a new “religious order” that promises the “first real afterlife.” (Read more.)

Saturday, August 1, 2020

The Fashion of Jane Austen's Novels

From Publisher's Weekly:
Dress in the Age of Jane Austen has been a long time coming. It started out as a chance comment in 2013 from Professor Aileen Ribeiro, author of foundational books on dress history such as The Art of Dress: Fashion in England and France 1750 to 1820. We were standing chatting in the snowy grounds of Chawton House, once owned by Jane Austen’s brother Edward Knight, who was adopted by childless cousins and changed his surname. The gracious Elizabethan manor had become a center for studying women’s lives and writings, but we were there for the filming of the BBC documentary Pride and Prejudice: Having a Ball, which sought to recreate the famous Netherfield ball scene from Jane Austen’s most beloved novel. I had made a handstitched replica gown for the production and appeared as the costume expert. During conversation, Professor Ribeiro mused on the fact that there was no good book on Regency dress. I agreed, but was taken by (flattered) surprise when she said she thought I would be the perfect person to write one. The conversation moved on. However, the idea’s seed started growing quietly in the back of my head. Six months later, I had decided to write what I privately thought of as The Big Book of Regency Dress.

My introduction to the clothes of Britain’s Regency period (c. 1795-1821) was through the body and life of Jane Austen, by recreating a silk pelisse coat, the only known garment connected with the author. Her incredibly observant writing, combined with the breadth of research existing on her and her family, made Austen the perfect starting point. Because I began with her physicality, I mused on the importance of the bodily self as the starting point for imagining and wearing fashion. From this center emerged the book’s structure, which moves outwards in concentric circles from Self, through the experiences of Home, Village, Country, City, Nation and finally, World. Locating seemingly English local fashions within their wider global contexts was important to me as an Australian historian. Without Britain’s world trade, none of the heaving bosoms dear to screen adaptations would have been clad in muslin gowns and Kashmir shawl (Read more.)

A Trojan Horse For A Radical Agenda

From The Daily Wire:
“It’s not so much whether America will be more conservative or more liberal, more Republican or Democrat, more red or blue. It’s whether America remains America,” said Pence, who went on to characterize the choice this November as “two paths, one based on the dignity of every individual, and the other on the growing control of the State.” Claiming that the Democratic Party’s path “leads to socialism and decline,” Pence painted presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden as a hapless candidate who has aligned himself with the agenda of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and the radical Left wing of the Democratic Party. “I thought Joe Biden won the Democrat primaries, but looking at their unity agenda, it looks to me like Bernie won,” he said in reference to the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force.
“When you consider Joe Biden’s agenda and his embrace of the radical Left, it’s clear: Joe Biden would be nothing more than an autopen president,” Pence alleged. “A Trojan horse for a radical agenda; so radical, so all-encompassing, that it would transform this country into something utterly unrecognizable.”
It is therefore no surprise, Pence said, that democratic socialist Sanders has thrown his support behind Biden, touting him as someone who would “transform the country” and distinguish himself as “the most progressive president in nearly a century.”
“The Biden-Sanders agenda would set America on the path of socialism and decline,” Pence added. “And as our nation endures this time of testing, we’d do well to tell our neighbors and friends that it’s also a time for choosing.”
If elected, Joe Biden will be 78 years old when he assumes office, making him the oldest president in American history. He has signaled that he will likely not seek a second term, for which reason his vice presidential pick has garnered acute attention. A source in the campaign told Politico in December, “This makes Biden a good transition figure. I’d love to have an election this year for the next generation of leaders, but if I have to wait four years [in order to] to get rid of Trump, I’m willing to do it.” (Read more.)

From The Stream:
All for what crime, exactly? For waiting for a bus after a pro-life demonstration. And smiling while white. For Sandmann standing his ground, when some “Indian tribal elder” confronted him with a war drum. Ah, but Sandmann and his friends were supposed to give way. They should have taken a knee. Maybe flattened themselves to form a human red carpet, so the “tribal elder” could walk all over them. You know, as cops in Portland and Chicago are apparently ordered to do, in the face of violent mobs. 
One leftist after another pointed out Sandmann’s unforgivable sin. That he was smiling. He didn’t look terrified, guilt-struck, or even enraged. He was calm, confident, and amiable. Perhaps those character traits are now part of “white privilege,” as the Smithsonian now explains. I read at least a dozen columnists or reporters expatiate on that smile, comparing Sandmann to settlers who slaughtered Indians, or concentration camp guards. (Read more.) 

He "seemed like" a happy warrior, but who knows? It's a miserable, unrelenting, stressful life, as the friends fall away and the colleagues, who were socially distant years before Covid, turn openly hostile. There are teachers who agree with Mike Adams at UNCW and other universities - not a lot, but some - and there are others who don't agree but retain a certain queasiness about the tightening bounds of acceptable opinion ...and they all keep their heads down. So the burthen borne by a man with his head up, such as Adams, is a lonely one, and it can drag you down and the compensations (an invitation to discuss your latest TownHall column on the radio or cable news) are very fleeting. 
The American academy is bonkers and has reared monsters - so that we now have a "black liberation movement" staffed almost entirely by college-educated white women (including a remarkable number of angry trans-women) from the over-undergraduated permanent-varsity Class of Whenever. We are assured that out in "the real world" there is a soi-disant "silent majority" whose voices will resound around the world on November 3rd. For what it's worth, I don't believe in the existence of this "silent majority", and a political party that has won the popular vote only once in the last thirty years (2004) ought to be chary about over-investing in it. But either way, if you're doing the heavy lifting on an otherwise abandoned front of the culture war, what you mostly hear, as Mike Adams did, is the silent majority's silence - month in, month out. (Read more.) 

Tintagel – Castle of the Dumnonians

From Heritage Daily:
The earliest traces of settlement dates from the Roman period, where a proposed Roman outpost has been suggested to occupy the site. Archaeological evidence is scarce, with only small traces of Roman activity such as coins, pottery, and small finds with no identification of contemporary Roman structures. With the collapse of Roman government in Britannia during the 5th century AD, the former province split into various Kingdoms and Cornwall (formerly civitas Dumnoniorum during Roman times) likely emerged as the Kingdom of Dumnonia, named after the Dumnonii which inhabited the region.

Tintagel developed into a prosperous stronghold and centre of trade, which archaeologists propose was an elite settlement inhabited by a powerful local warlord or even Dumnonian royalty. Excavations have revealed that the headland was covered with small rectangular buildings and was defended on the landward side by large earthworks and a ditch. Archaeologists also discovered high-status items imported from Africa and the Mediterranean, suggesting that Tintagel was connected to a wide interconnected trade network despite the period being considered the Dark Ages.

 In 1138, Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain gave rise to the mythical figure of King Arthur, which Geoffrey associates Tintagel as the site where Uther Pendragon, King of Britain seduced Queen Igerna (wife of Duke Gorlois of Cornwall). (Read more.)

Friday, July 31, 2020

Tissot’s Great Reversion

 Inner Voices: Christ Consoling the Wanderers
From The Catholic Thing:
In Paris he began again to paint society women for willing patrons, and one such commission took the still-grieving painter to the Latin Quarter’s Church of Saint-Sulpice. At one of his working visits there – during priest’s elevation of the Host – Tissot had a vision of Christ. The Lord’s body was bloodied but luminous, and He was comforting two homeless people in the midst of a ruined building, probably a crumbling church – a very Franciscan moment, and one that changed Tissot’s life. He did a painting almost immediately after this epiphany called Inner Voices: Christ Consoling the Wanderers (now at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia)...But this was only the beginning. As a now devout Catholic wishing to devote his art to celebrating the life of our Savior, Tissot traveled to the Middle East several times to look at the land where Jesus had walked and look into the faces of the ancestors of those who had proclaimed Him the Christ. You may recall last year’s Good Friday column here, “The Scriptural Stations of the Cross,” which presented the fourteen Stations, from Gethsemane to the Entombment, illustrated with watercolors from Tissot’s monumental series, The Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He did hundreds of paintings based on what he saw in the Holy Land, most of which are now in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum, acquired through “subscription” and by popular demand in 1900. Sad to say, although the museum mounted a limited exhibition of the series in 2009, most of Tissot’s magnum opus is now in storage(Read more.)

Global Crash in Birth Rate

From The BBC:
Falling fertility rates mean nearly every country could have shrinking populations by the end of the century. And 23 nations - including Spain and Japan - are expected to see their populations halve by 2100. Countries will also age dramatically, with as many people turning 80 as there are being born. The fertility rate - the average number of children a woman gives birth to - is falling. If the number falls below approximately 2.1, then the size of the population starts to fall. In 1950, women were having an average of 4.7 children in their lifetime. Researchers at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation showed the global fertility rate nearly halved to 2.4 in 2017 - and their study, published in the Lancet, projects it will fall below 1.7 by 2100. (Read more.)

From Big League Politics:
They cite data from the Institute for Family Studies surmising that “declines in first births have been very large and extend all the way up to women in their mid-thirties. Meanwhile, there have not been appreciable increases in first birth rates among women in their late thirties and into their forties. Lost first births at younger years are not being made up in later years. The argument that childless women are going to “catch up” and that the share of women who are childless will not rise in the future is almost certainly wrong.”
Stone and Cox made the point that this news is terrible not just for the economy but also for the fabric of Western society. The West is on the road to mass civilizational suicide because of the birthrate collapse.
“Most of the decline in birthrates has been among younger and unmarried women, while married birthrates have been stable. Meanwhile, marriage rates have fallen sharply, especially for less-educated Americans and minorities. As a result, “family life,” conceived as two committed parents residing with their children, is increasingly an upper-middle-class luxury good,” they explained.
“It is common among Americans in the top half of the economic distribution. But among the poor and working class, we are pairing off less and less, and welcoming new life into our homes less and less,” Stone and Cox added. (Read more.)
From Ave Maria Radio:
A generation has passed since the publication of the boldly pastoral and prophetic encyclical Humanae Vitae which upheld the ancient ban on the use of artificial contraception. Perhaps no teaching of the Church causes the worldly to scoff more than our teaching against artificial contraception. The eyes of so many, Catholics among them, roll and the scoffing begins: Unrealistic! Out of touch! Uncompassionate!  Silly! You’ve got to be kidding!
The Lord Jesus had an answer to those who ridiculed him in a similar way:
“To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: ” ‘We played the flute for you,  and you did not dance;  we sang a dirge and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners.” ‘ But time will prove where wisdom lies.”  (Matt 11:16-18)
Indeed, times DOES prove where wisdom lies. Some forty or more years after widespread acceptance of contraception set in how have we done? Perhaps it is best to review some of the “promises” that contraceptive advocates made, then review the prophecies of Paul VI. Then lets review the record, looking at the “fruits” of contraception. (Read more.)
Let's take back our children. From American Thinker:
Black disciples of socialism disguised as civil rights activists have also been allowed to sow their seeds of anti-American hate in public education for decades. In the 1970s, I was a student at the prestigious Maryland Institute College of Art via scholarships. The Black Panthers showed up, angrily demanding a platform on campus to protest. College management humbly complied. As a black student, I never understood what I was supposed to be angry at the college about or how the college was abusing me.

Dad was a civil rights pioneer. He pressured me and my four younger siblings to always vote and join the NAACP. Upon attending my first NAACP meeting, I was stunned. They actually joined in a circle; held hands; and sang, "We Shall Overcome". Their rhetoric sounded as though I had stepped through a time warp back to 1950. Leftist institutions of indoctrination are still selling students, black and white, the absurd lie that America has not progressed racially beyond the 1950s.

I wrote about public elementary schools teaching white kids to hate themselves and feel guilty for being born white — about pre-K students being taught to embrace homosexuality and to consider attempting to change their sex. The children's book I Am Jazz about a boy whose parents insanely began preparing him to pretend to be female at age 3 is read to kindergartners without parental consent and even mandatory in schools' curricula. (Read more.)

Hundreds of Elephants Found Dead

From the BBC:
Dr Niall McCann said colleagues in the southern African country had spotted more than 350 elephant carcasses in the Okavango Delta since the start of May. No one knows why the animals are dying, with lab results on samples still weeks away, according to the government. 
Botswana is home to a third of Africa's declining elephant population. Dr McCann, of the UK-based charity National Park Rescue, told the BBC local conservationists first alerted the government in early May, after they undertook a flight over the delta. 
"They spotted 169 in a three-hour flight," he said. "To be able to see and count that many in a three-hour flight was extraordinary. 
"A month later, further investigations identified many more carcasses, bringing the total to over 350." 
"This is totally unprecedented in terms of numbers of elephants dying in a single event unrelated to drought," he added. (Read more.)

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Almost There: Marlene Dietrich in "Witness for the Prosecution"

From The Film Experience:
In other words, the role of Christine Vole is performance inside another performance, inside a performance, a Matryoshka of lies and deceit. Only at the end does Dietrich get to show genuine emotion for, until then, she must play a Machiavellian genius pulling the strings, both towards the characters in the story and the audience watching the film. We mustn't trust Christine during any of the early scenes, and, in that regard, Dietrich excels as no other actress could. Leaning on her glamourous, but aloof, screen persona, she conjures a vision of untrustworthiness made flesh, an archetypal femme fatale that's as beautiful as she is poisonous.

It's easy to underappreciate Dietrich's craft since she so often played similar roles and hardly ever challenged the public and the studio's idea of herself. Watching her give life to Christine feels a lot like seeing a consummate professional going through the motions, a well-oiled machine whose precision doesn't surprise. Still, there's intelligence in the actress's choices, like the way she holds her body in rigid poses when on trial. Dietrich calls attention to the performative nature of Christine by contrasting such rigidity, as well as the staccato intensity of her anger, with the body language she exhibits during the amorous flashback and the finale's plot twist. (Read more.)

Death Rattle of the Revolution?

Let's hope. From PJ Media:

Look, I understand, okay? Not as many people have had the experience I had of living under unbridled, unmasked Marxist power, so you don’t understand their myths and how they actually connect with reality. Oh, you’re starting to see it, as the left drops its masks, but it’s not the same as seeing them running around, showing their behinds and expounding the craziest theories during your formative years, when your eye is unsparing. There is a reason it was a little boy who cried “the king goes naked.”

Let’s start with what the left thinks they are doing: 

They think they’re bringing about their utopia, their heaven on Earth. 

They have been programmed – indoctrinated, really – from birth via the media, education, entertainment, and – heaven have mercy – even churches and synagogues into believing what amounts to a heretical Christian sect.

There are many variations of the Communist mythos, mostly Marx, but with its roots firmly in Rosseau. They range from racial ones (one to each race) to feminist ones. There are probably others I haven’t even heard about.

The myth goes like this: in the beginning, there was no capitalism (the cult’s quaint name for any free buying and selling or trade. (This is why they call monarchies capitalism or private property.) This was the dawn of man, the perfect state of humanity. Because there was no property there was no envy and no crime. Man (and particularly woman) lived in a time of innocence. In this perfect utopia – feminist version – women ruled, sex was free, babies were brought up communally, and every woman could do as she pleased. In the racial version, the poor now-oppressed race were the rulers, and therefore there was no property, etc., etc. No crime. (Read more.)


A Mask for Arbitrary Power

From The Federalist:
Another pervasive recent example is, of course, the use of “science” as a shield for politicians to make largely arbitrary, ill-informed, and oftentimes abusive decisions about how to handle COVID-19. In recent months, we’ve been told that “science says” so many contradictory and even flat-out false things, it’s hard to even keep track of them all. Science says don’t wear a mask. Except that you absolutely should wear a mask. Even though it isn’t recommended by medical scientists using data from other respiratory disease outbreaks. But it’s still helpful. Or actually it’s not really, according to the Centers for Disease Control in 2017. Yet you should still wear a mask, or else. Who knows?
Science says gathering in groups will spread coronavirus. Except if those groups are thousands of anti-America protesters crowding together on hot streets. Oh, wait, yes, that actually does spread the disease. And so does attending church. But not going to the grocery store. While going to the beach is dangerous. Except being outside is actually about the safest place you can be.
Except that there are second waves of transmission in hot, summery places where lots of people outside. The science said summer would slow the virus. Except now it’s not, and you need to stay inside. Except when you’re going outside. But don’t you dare plant your garden when you’re out there, or go to your cabin. But other people from other states can go to their cabins in your state. Because science! (Read more.)

 From American Greatness:
Power-grabbing, attention-addicted governors hog local news cameras each day under the guise of “Coronavirus Update!” to riff about their keen abilities to fight a virus or spew invective at Donald Trump or issue another decree to inflict further misery upon their willing subjects. As school children and their parents anxiously check email boxes for any update about the fall semester and working parents with small children are scrambling to develop backup plans for online learning, Democrats are pushing hard to keep kids and teachers at home—at least until Election Day.
One person, however, seems to be basking in the chaos and confusion: Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. After toiling in relative obscurity at that position for more than 35 years, Fauci is earning the sort of rock star treatment that legitimate rock stars dream about—or at least pay big bucks to an A-list publicist to produce. But Fauci, thanks to U.S. taxpayers, is getting a free ride on the media’s nonstop publicity train. This week, Fauci graces the cover of InStyle, a fashion magazine that has yet to feature one of the most stylish First Ladies of all time, Melania Trump. (Read more.)

From AIER:
Looking at the lockdowns and the consequent leveling of tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of small businesses – and the myriad other costs that such a policy brings – one wonders: is there no probity? It’s clear that the architects of schemes will never apologize; well, not really. But will they be held accountable?

Perennially, proposals are made that economists, data scientists, and other individuals with influential knowledge sets should, like medical doctors, have to take a Hippocratic Oath: an oath upholding fundamental ethics. While the original Hippocratic Oath did not, as it does now, require physicians to “First, do no harm,” the modern reach of technically-skilled elites via the media and policy should unquestionably bring that dictum. (Read more.)

As people suffer, so do the arts: Also from AIER:
Imagine England without Handel’s Messiah, William Byrd or Thomas Tallis, or even the hymns of Ralph Vaughan Williams! Why would people have done this to our precious arts communities, and why are so few objecting or even talking about it?

For that matter, what is America without live jazz, Broadway, and the movies in theaters? What the hell is going on here? The excuse is disease control, as if choirs and jazz clubs are nothing but germ spreading machines. There is no particular reason to believe it, given the wild exaggerations of the threat out there for a virus that reached its national fatality peak three months ago.

I will provide an empirical case from three weeks ago when I was among 400 plus people gathered from all over the country in a New Hampshire campground for Porcfest. There was no distancing and almost no mask wearing. You might think it would become a COVID petri dish based on the frenzy alive in the media. Actually a survey following the 3-day event turned up not one single case of sickness. Not one!

Based on this and piles of evidence mounting daily that the fatalities of this disease are predictably focused on the very old and sick, it seems hopelessly ignorant to have done this to the arts community. A civilization without art is not a high civilization. Maybe it doesn’t even deserve the name. (Read more.)